Meeting Stan Lee

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 15 July 2014.

Stan Lee June 2014

In comic book fandom, there is only one true living legend. Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men are just a few of the co-creations of Stan “The Man” Lee. At the spritely age of ninety one, Lee was recently on our shores for his farewell world tour, and I was one of 50,800 fans who attended the Supanova Pop Culture Expo just to be in the same room as the creator of the Marvel Universe. I actually did a little better than that, also having the opportunity to have a photo with and obtain an autograph from “Smilin'” Stan Lee.

As the Game of Thrones travelling exhibition proved (I came, I saw the queue, I went home), being a lover of pop culture often means enduring long waits, and Supanova was no exception. Even with my reasonably expensive “True Believer” pass, I was still subject to queues which snaked across the immense concrete floor of what is normally the food pavilion of the Royal Easter Show. It was impossible to get lost. There was a plethora of kooky volunteers to prod you into a single file, and the seemingly never ending masking tape arrows at your feet would see you to the superstar guest of you choice, eventually.

I was quite amazed at the efficiency of the celebrity photography outfit at Supanova. It was literally get in, drop your bags, get drenched, er, I mean smile, get out and collect your glossy photo. Proudly sporting my new lycra Spidey tee, I approached Mr Lee who was comfortably seated on a bar stool. I posed, we smiled, there was a flash and a treasured memento for my living room was made. I was quite chuffed when Stan muttered, “Good work.” Hey, who is going to turn down positive feedback from the revered co-creator of Doctor Strange?

The autograph process was much the same. Luckily for me, my pass allowed me to bypass the extremely lengthy general admission queue and join the “True Believer” queue. Sigh. Standing in line at a pop culture convention is never boring. There are always interesting geeks, who know more about Doctor Who than should be legal, to converse with, as well as costumed cosplayers to admire (or not as the case may be – portly Picard I’m talking about you).

At the head of the line, I hastily unfurled my limited edition print (Stan fighting off a Mars Attacks alien with a typewriter) and was waved on to meet “The Man” again. Seconds later I was on my way with an authentic Stan Lee signature (I paid extra for a sticker that says so) and a brief story about how the typewriter on the poster is a depiction of the original typewriter that he used until his ex-wife broke it, and that was why she was his ex-wife. I assume that was a joke.

The highlight of my day was a filled to capacity Q & A session where Lee bounced around the stage, captivating the audience with tales of Marvel’s early years, the origins of now iconic super heroes and his favourite creation (for the record, it is Spider-Man). I just hope that when I am ninety one, I will still have such passion for my work. Forget that, I hope that I still have a passion for anything. I also hope that thousands of geeks will pay hundreds of dollars to get my autograph and have photos with me, as I relax in a chair. Excelsior!!

Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 15:02  Leave a Comment  
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Iron Sky: Attack of the Moon Hun Menace

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 29th June 2010.

It’s 1945 and, following a major breakthrough in technology, the Nazis develop flying spacecraft and retreat to the dark side of the moon. In 2018, they return to Earth to seek their revenge and the battle to save the world from Nazi conquest begins again.

Sounds like a fantastic big budget science fiction film, right?  Well, the budget will be slightly more modest, but Iron Sky is currently in pre-production and is due to hit cinemas and the internet in 2012. With a budget partially funded by supporters across the world and plans to film in Australia, fans can assist in the production and even score an appearance in the movie as an extra.

Following the success of the micro budget science fiction comedy “Star Wreck: In the Perkinning” which was filmed in a two room flat in Finland, director Timo Vuorensola and producer Samuli Torssonen have moved on to the more ambitious project of bringing the “Moon Hun Menace” to the big screen.

Iron Sky will be created in collaboration with hundreds of fans worldwide. Via the internet, the producers are open to submissions regarding the storyline, production or any other ideas that may assist with the making of the film. Tasks are also placed online for volunteers to perform. Recently, to hopefully make the battle sequences as realistic as possible, the producers were seeking advice regarding what happens when metal armour plating is hit by a projectile. So far over a dozen “experts” have replied with photos, videos and information.

The producers of Iron Sky are also seeking investment in their project. Starting from €1000 (around $1400), investors can earn themselves a private screening of the completed movie or even an associate producer credit, as well as the potential to make money if the film turns a profit.

For those of us with less cash to splash around, the Iron Sky website also has merchandise and supporter packs, known as “war bonds” for sale, with proceeds going towards the film budget. Having visited their stand at the Supanova pop culture expo last weekend, I am now a proud owner of an Iron Sky t-shirt.

The Iron Sky production team have recently arrived in Australia to scout locations and studios. Now with Australian producers on board, much of the film will be shot here, potentially on the Gold Coast. This means that Aussie fans have a good shot of being chosen to appear as extras in the movie. To be considered, simply send your picture and a short description of yourself to the Iron Sky website. With a bit of luck, you might make your motion picture debut fighting Nazis from the moon.

Iron Sky represents an exciting new method of collaborative filmmaking and I can’t wait to see the final product, especially if I manage to score a walk-on part.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 09:05  Comments (1)  
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Supanova: a day of geeky goodness

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 22nd June 2010.

Ever wondered where former television and film actors go when their careers begin to slow down, or even come to a complete stop? They hit the convention circuit and this past weekend in Sydney, the Supanova pop culture expo exploded into Sydney’s Olympic Park.

An annual event, Supanova attracts fans of all ages and interests. Covering almost all aspects of geekdom, from television and movies to anime (Japanese animation), comics, wrestling and gaming, this convention is the perfect place to grab an autograph from your favourite actor, locate that elusive comic for your collection and spend, spend, spend at the numerous stores, laden with toys, t-shirts and collectibles.

Of course, if you fancy wandering around dressed up as a superhero, a Japanese cartoon character or a Stormtrooper, you certainly would not be out of place at Supanova. In fact, attending in costume is encouraged and hundreds of fans came out in their best costumes to participate in the National Cosplay (costume play) Championships. I’m still wondering how the guy in the homemade rubber Alien suit went to the bathroom or caught the train home.

This year’s special guests included Lou Ferrigno, Michael Winslow, Eliza Dushku and Charisma Carpenter. Who exactly are these celebrities, you may ask?

Mr Ferrigno came to fame in the seventies as the original Incredible Hulk. After 5 years painted green and running around in his trousers smashing things up on TV, Lou’s star fell and he now is a personal trainer and a regular on the international fan convention circuit. Despite being profoundly deaf, he is a fascinating speaker and still in great shape.

Remember the guy from the Police Academy movies that made all of the funny sounds? That’s Michael Winslow. Still highly amusing, his act hasn’t changed since his movie franchise ground to a halt in 1994.

Eliza Dushku and Charisma Carpenter are both alumni from the Whedonverse, a series of television shows created by Joss Whedon, which includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Dollhouse. Both actresses were extremely popular with the attendees, despite being “between jobs”.

All guest stars participated in Q & A sessions, where fans got to field questions about almost anything. I attended the majority of these sessions and found all of the celebrities to be most professional, despite the odd inappropriate question. Most interesting were the more aged guests, such as Lou Ferrigno, who had many entertaining stories from a lengthy career as a minor celebrity.

The majority of the celebrities’ time over the weekend was spent giving autographs. When I say, giving, I actually mean selling. Whilst resting “between jobs” or in the twilight of their careers, the convention circuit is a reliable source of income for all but the highest echelon of performers.

For the sum of $30 per autograph, fans can get the signature of their favourite guests on a headshot photograph or an item of their choice. For $40, you can have a professional photo with them too. For the mega fan who wants to skip the queues, a VIP ticket for $800 will get you in the front row of the talks and guaranteed photos and autographs.

The Supanova experience is certainly not a cheap day out but for those of us who like to bath in geeky goodness, it is an annual pilgrimage. Now if only I could get a minor role in a Star Wars movie or something, I could make a living with a permanent marker on the convention circuit.